Oct. 21, 2011— -- intro: Cate Edwards, the eldest daughter of John and Elizabeth Edwards, will say "I do" Saturday, bringing a day of joy to a family that has endured so much loss and upheaval in the last year.
Edwards, 29, is marrying her college boyfriend, Dr. Trevor Upham, 30. Her father, the disgraced former senator from North Carolina and two-time presidential candidate, will escort her down the aisle at the Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, N.C., The New York Times reported.
Afterward, friends and family will join the new couple at the Edwards' sprawling country estate outside Chapel Hill.
The day will surely be bittersweet, without Cate's mother, Elizabeth, there to see it. She died of metastatic breast cancer less than two weeks after Cate and Upham, a surgical fellow at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., became engaged.
In the time they had left, mother and daughter plunged into wedding plans.
"I feel so lucky to have shared that joy with her, to have had the time to leaf through bridal magazines together and talk about the wedding," Cate Edwards wrote in an article for Glamour magazine. "Even though I've had to plan the wedding without her, I feel blessed because, in her last weeks, she told me she was comforted to know I'd set forth on my own life path, with someone she loved and respected, and with whom she truly believed I would be happy."
Edwards said her mother "advised me to think carefully about the ceremony: It could be an important map, she said, for our life together."
About 150 invitations were sent out for the long wedding weekend, which will begin with welcoming cocktails on Thursday, the Times reported.
Upham's father, Chris, will serve as his best man. Edwards' sister, Emma Claire, 13, will be her maid of honor, while her 11-year-old brother, Jack, will be a groomsman. Edwards will have 14 bridesmaids.
The reception, Edwards wrote, will be outdoors at the 100-acre family estate and have a "rustic romantic" theme that she planned with her mother.
According to the Times, guests will start with a two-hour outdoor cocktail reception with stations serving shrimp and grits and Carolina crab cakes, before sitting down for dinner. The groom's parents, foodies from California, had a strong say in the menu, the newspaper said.
Guests will move to a Chapel Hill hotel for the after-party, which is expected to go until 2 a.m.
In lieu of traditional wedding gifts, Edwards, who left a firm in Washington, where she was practicing law, to start the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, has suggested donations to the foundation instead. The foundation provides mentors to disadvantaged college-bound students.
Click through to see who will and who, most likely, won't be at the wedding.
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Edwards and Upham met as students at Princeton University.
Two years later they broke up, before reuniting for good in 2006.
"We wanted to see what else was out there, and nothing else was — nothing else as good as what we have," Edwards told Harper's Bazaar in 2007. "It's really nice to have someone who was there before all this began. You can really trust they're there for the right reasons."
The couple got engaged the day after Thanksgiving last year. Upham surprised Edwards by proposing "in front of the green-shuttered house that my parents had brought me home to as a newborn," she wrote in Glamour.
Later, Upham, who had helped Edwards decipher her mother's medical reports, served as a pallbearer at Elizabeth Edwards' funeral.
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Everyone knew that Elizabeth Edwards would not live to see her daughter married.
But she did approve of the young man who would have been her son-in-law, even assisting in his surprise proposal to her daughter.
"She had been in on it for weeks," Cate Edwards wrote. "Trevor had shipped her the ring weeks before, and she had hidden it in the trunk of my car so he could retrieve it before he popped the question."
A few days after the engagement, the family announced that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer had spread. She died Dec. 7 at the age of 61.
The bride-to-be said her mother will be in her thoughts on the big day.
"We talked a lot about the wedding and little details, and I'll obviously be thinking about her a lot that day," Edwards told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell last month.
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John Edwards didn't want to take any chances missing his daughter's wedding.
His trial for federal violations of campaign finance laws stemming from his affair with Rielle Hunter, which produced daughter Quinn, was set to start this month.
Edwards asked a judge to postpone it until January because of Cate's wedding.
The former U.S. senator was charged this year with using about $1 million in undisclosed payments from his campaign finance chairman and a wealthy 98-year-old widow to cover up his affair with Hunter during his 2008 run for the White House. He has pleaded not guilty.
Cate has obviously set aside any hurts from the past.
Father and daughter actually grew somewhat closer following John's very public split from Elizabeth, People magazine's Washington correspondent Sandra Sobieraj Westfall told "GMA" last year after an interview with Elizabeth Edwards.
"[Elizabeth] said they've actually grown closer because they've had to work so hard to rebuild," Westfall told "Good Morning America." "Remember, John Edwards isn't doing anything else these days."
Cate Edwards made no mention of the scandal, her half-sister or Hunter in the Glamour article.
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John Edwards' former campaign videographer Rielle Hunter and their three-year-old daughter are not expected to make an appearance at the wedding.
Earlier this year reports surfaced that Edwards and Hunter were engaged, before they were quickly shot down by his camp.
Hunter is currently engaged in an ugly civil lawsuit with Edwards' former aide Andrew Young, who was tasked with keeping their affair hidden.
quicklist: 5category: title: Jack and Emma Claire Edwardsurl: text: Cate Edwards' younger siblings, Jack and Emma Claire, will walk down the aisle before her as a groomsman and her maid of honor, respectively.
John Edwards has custody of the two youngest children, conceived after John and Elizabeth's eldest son, Wade, died in a car accident at age 16.
Before she died, Elizabeth shot down rumors that she was grooming Cate to take care of the children.
"The children would go to John and then, if he died, to Cate, that is what we always said in our wills," Edwards told ABCNews.com.
Nonetheless, Cate remains extremely close to them, writing in Glamour about driving Emma Claire to camp, where the younger sister shrugged off her older sister's over-protectiveness with an "I love you" and "I'll be fine."
She said her brother shares their mother's "witty banter" and love for recommending books.